Category Archives: Christianity

Visible Catholicity

The Center for Baptist Renewal continues explaining its Evangelical Baptist Catholicity Manifesto, this time addressing consensual creeds.

We encourage the ongoing affirmation, confession, and catechetical use of the three ecumenical creeds and the scriptural insights of the seven ecumenical councils. We believe these confessional documents express well what Thomas Oden called the “consensual tradition”—the deposit of faith taught in Holy Scripture and received by the church throughout space and time.

Growing up in the Baptist tradition, I rarely heard the ecumenical creeds.  One of the things I appreciate about Presbyterian worship is repeating the Apostles’ Creed weekly.  I remember the first time my Roman Catholic friend visited church with me, afterward saying that it was joining in the Apostles’ Creed made her feel at home.

I agree with this:

[C]reedal and confessional adherence is one of the most ready-at-hand means of expressing visible catholicity: our unity with the broader body of Christ throughout space and time. The whole Church together confesses the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds and submits to the doctrinal pronouncements of the ecumenical councils. And, denominationally, Christians of similar convictions are united by confession and adherence to common beliefs, despite differences that may be found in tertiary issues.

And this:

In other context, Russell D. Moore has suggested that American Christians are “Americans best when they are not Americans first,” highlighting our ultimate allegiance to the kingdom of Christ. We would suggest a similar principle at work here: Baptists are Baptists best when they are not Baptists first.

Related to this, as a Seventh Day Baptist, I am best when I am not a Sabbath keeper first.

Read more here.

 

Advertisements

All Thy Works Shall Praise Thy Name

This is one of my favorite hymns.  Although it is difficult to hear the words in this recording, I love the majesty and awe reflected in the organ accompaniment.  It is so fitting.

The text:

1 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

2 Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

3 Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

4 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2018/01/25/3264/

This Conjunction of Deaths

From tomorrow’s church bulletin at Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church, suggested “thoughts to ponder during the organ prelude”:

Our Scriptures are full of this suffering and death language: the Gospel passion stories spill over into the Epistles and the apocalypse—our sufferings continuously set in the context of Christ’s sufferings;  Christ’s suffering placed is insistently alongside ours.
Jesus died.  There is no avoiding this.  This is fundamental.  And I am somehow or other going to die.  There is no avoiding this: this is fundamental.  This conjunction of deaths, Jesus’ and mine, is where I begin to understand and receive salvation.
                                                – Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.

Born in Chains

Now that I’ve put away all my Advent and Christmas music I looked for something I haven’t heard in a while to entertain me while I cook and bake today, awaiting a brief visit from friends.  I chose Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems CD.  The last two songs, “Born in Chains” and “You Got Me Singing” remind me of Dylan, and Christianity.  I hope Cohen knew Who he was addressing in the ultimate sense.

I was born in chains but I was taken out of Egypt
I was bound to a burden, but the burden it was raised
Lord I can no longer keep this secret
Blessed is the name, the name be praised
I fled to the edge of a mighty sea of sorrow
Pursued by the riders of a cruel and dark regime
But the waters parted and my soul crossed over
Out of Egypt, out of Pharaoh’s dream
Word of words and the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest
I was idled with my soul, when I heard that you could use me
I followed very closely, but my life remained the same
But then you showed me where you had been wounded
In every atom broken is a name
I was alone on the road, your love was so confusing
All my teachers told me I had myself to blame
But in the grip of sensual illusion
The sweet unknowing unifies a name
Word of words, and the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest
I’ve heard the soul unfolds in the chambers of its longing
And the bitter liquor sweetens in the amber cup
But all the ladders of the night have fallen
Only darkness now, to lift the longing up
Word of words and measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest.
Christians believe we are all born in chains, and it is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (“broken in every atom)” that breaks the chain of sin and covers us with the righteousness of Christ.  It is a gift…the water parts and we walk over into the very presence of God, based solely on the gift.
Romans 8: 1-4  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by flesh, could not do.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

A Worship Service

My brother, William, like me, also belongs to a Presbyterian church.  Just as Seventh Day Baptist (the denomination in which we were raised) worship service structure differs among congregations, so does that in Presbyterian congregations.   William’s church observes communion every week.  I can not think of a better way to  worship.  Observing Communion reminds us why we are Christian.  It takes away our pride.  It unites us to each other in Christ.

A recent bulletin:

IMG_5490

IMG_5491

 

 

 

 

 

An Advent Rainbow

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 9.38.23 AM.png

My childhood church did not use a liturgical Church calendar and so although we celebrated Christmas and Easter, there was little attention given to seasons such as Advent and Lent.  Now that I think about it, there was always anticipation building to those two times of the year, much like there is in the church I now attend that does observe a liturgical calendar.  There is a difference though.  When a church is formally observing the seasons of Advent and Lent everything is directed to understanding and anticipating what is to come.  Dedicating several weeks focused on preparing for the main event reminds us these are not usual events, they are of utmost importance, and we need to be prepared.
This morning I was, for the second time, surprised by a rainbow near a favorite vista.  Thanks to my childhood church instruction, I immediately remembered God telling Noah he put a rainbow in the sky as a sign of His promise to never again destroy the earth by flood.  Today, even more than that specific promise, the rainbow said to me “God keeps His promises, all kinds of promises, and that includes what we anticipate during advent.”
Rainbows also bring Cowper’s words to mind:

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

Veni, Emmanuel

My choir’s first Advent Carol, this coming week:

Be not afraid, I bring you good news.
The Savior is coming in glory to you.
He shall be called “God’s Holy One.”
Will you be ready? Will you be ready?
Will you be ready for Him when He comes?
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Open your hearts, prepare ye the way.
Sleepers awake, soon is the dawning.
He will turn night into glorious day,
He will turn night into day.
Be of good cheer and put away fear,
The light now is coming to dry ev´ry tear.
Love now with us, God´s perfect Son.
Will you be ready? Will you be ready?
Will you be ready for Him when He comes, When He comes?
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Open your hearts, prepare ye the way.
Sleepers awake, for soon is the dawning.
He will turn night into glorious day.
He will turn night into day.
He will turn night into day.
Veni, Emmanuel.
Captivum solve Israel.
Veni, Emmanuel.
Jesus is coming.Jesus is coming.
Could He be coming today?
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Open your hearts, prepare ye the way.
Sleepers awake, for soon is the dawning.
He will turn night into glorious day.
He will turn night into day.
He will turn night into day.
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.